Jeske van Seters, ECDPM briefing note 100, March 2018.
Garments and textiles value chains offer opportunities for inclusive growth in many developing countries in Asia and increasingly also in Africa. They are faced, however, with many social and environmental sustainability challenges. This briefing note provides insights on national multi-stakeholder sector initiatives that have been developed in both Germany and the Netherlands to improve social and environmental conditions along the entire supply chain, and looks at the role of the EU in such a context.
The brief discusses the set-up and progress, the similarities and the differences of these initiatives. It highlights that these partnerships benefit from a high political level buy-in, which has helped them take off and move forward. It also discusses the relevance of a whole-of-government (different ministries with different portfolios working together) approach.
The German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles has a somewhat more formalised modus operandi, takes more time to agree on targets, principles and procedures, while the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile (AGT) opted for a more flexible and more iterative approach, partly helped by the trust built through cooperation between stakeholders that preceded the creation of the AGT. While operating differently, both multi-stakeholder sector initiatives face challenges, because of the nature of the partnership itself: i.e. working together with entities with different interests, expectations and objectives.
Both the Textiles Partnership and the AGT seek to enhance cooperation across countries at the EU level, to create a more level playing field for businesses, thus avoiding the creation of a comparative advantage for companies not adhering to international social and environmental standards and make it easier for companies operating in different EU Member States to engage. Based on the Dutch and German experience and on the interests of stakeholders, the brief also looks at what could be the potential and the shape of this transnational cooperation.
Photo courtesy of Andrea Moroni/flickr.